Rick Browner reporting for AFANA from Patersons Stadium, Perth
Port Adelaide traveled west to take on the in-form West Coast Eagles on a rare rainy day in Perth. Of late the Power have been anything but, looking unlikely to win a kick in a stampede. The Eagles had already trounced Port once this season in Round 2, but Port generally play well at Patersons Stadium and in Round 13, they gave the home side a scare or two.
The first part of the game was woeful. Port Adelaide looked like lawn ornaments standing around on a paddock. They had no run in their legs and were kicking at only 53% efficiency. Mark LeCras scored first after an unselfish handball from Mark Nicoski but for the rest of the quarter the Eagles kicked poorly in front of goals. Josh Kennedy kicked the Eagles’ second goal after a long 50 yard kick into the zone by Quinten Lynch. Port started to emerge from their slumber and a good passage of play from the center saw running forward Robbie Gray marking strongly and converting on goal. LeCras kicked his second when the ball spilled off a pack in the pocket to give the Eagles a 15 point lead at the end of the quarter. The Eagles had 106 possessions to the Power’s 71 which showed their dominance in field play had not been translated on to the scoreboard.
After play restarted Shannon Hurn got the Eagles on the board early with a massive 70 yard goal and Adam Selwood followed up soon after from a free kick. Everything was going according to the West Coast script. LeCras was denied a goal when he soccered off the ground, with the umpire ruling the football was touched by an opposition player as it left the boot. Port lifted their rating, hitting targets and running for their team-mates. Their increased pressure saw Jack Darling turn the ball over and Travis Boak scored a major for the Power. West Coast was off the boil and another turnover gave Danyle Pierce a goal. Suddenly the Port Adelaide players were up and about but the Eagles managed to regain some composure with goals to LeCras, Kennedy and Matt Priddis. West Coast entered the main break with a commanding 33 point lead.
Half-time gives the coach a chance to regroup and this worked wonders for the visitors. Justin Westhoff, unsighted for most of the first half, came to life in the third quarter. He kicked the all-important first goal of the second half after some slick work through the middle by Port Adelaide. Daniel Stewart kicked their next and when Simon Phillips kicked their third in five minutes, it looked as if the tide had well and truly turned. Port’s kicking efficiency had risen to 80% and they had 20 possessions to 12, clearly lifting their intensity and desire to win the contested ball. Nic Naitanui steadied the West Coast with a goal from a free kick, but Boak took advantage of another turnover and goaled. Hurn, the master of the long kick, scored next with a thumping kick that sailed straight through the middle of the goals. Port players were pulling out all the stops at this point, begging the question as to why it took half a game before they showed desperation for the contest. A goal by Jackson saw Port trailing by only 23 points going into the last quarter.
West Coast needed to lift their work rate. They had been trading punches with Port instead of showing the dominance that was needed to land the killer blow. Substitute Brad Ebert was activated to replace Darling and injected some much needed power when he kicked the first goal of the final term for the Eagles. Scott Selwood goaled quickly after with a sensational effort, kicking the contested ball out of mid-air right in front of the big sticks. Still Port would not go away, and when Boak kicked his third for the game, there was absolute silence around the ground. Turnovers hurt the Eagles once more when Hamish Hartlett scored and Cameron O’Shea followed up to have the visitors within three kicks of a win. The Eagles steadied towards the end of the game with back-to-back goals from Hurn (another 70 yard long bomb) and LeCras. Although Port Adelaide kicked the next two goals, it was all over with the Eagles running out 30 point winners in the end. Port had their chances in this game and gave the Eagles a scare in the third and fourth quarters. If they hadn’t taken so long to get their game face on, the result could have been different.
Port play a revitalised North Melbourne next week at home while the Eagles travel to Melbourne to take on the high-flying Carlton. West Coast is in fifth position on the Ladder and a win next round would firm up their chances of playing Finals. The money will be against them but they find themselves a long way from their Wooden Spoon position of last year.
For David Woodley's photos of this match, go to http://www.afana.com/drupal5/category/image_galleries/2011_season/2011_season_photo_essays/round_13_west_coast_v_port_adelaide/14
Scoreboard West Coast: 3.6 8.11 11.14 15.20 (110) Port Adelaide: 1.3 3.8 8.9 13.10 (80) Best Players West Coast: S Hurn, M LeCras, L Shuey, M Priddis, M Rosa Port Adelaide: D Cassisi, T Boak, D Pierce, M Pettigrew, T Logan
Article last changed on Saturday, June 25, 2011 - 8:51 PM EDT